Belmont Club

Hillary's Email Saga: Time to Move On?

The Hillary Clinton email saga may have entered a new chapter today, according to a report by Ken Dilanian of NBC News.  “In a letter to lawmakers, the intelligence community’s internal watchdog says some of Clinton’s emails contained information classified Top Secret/Special Access Program, a secrecy designation that includes some of the most closely held U.S. intelligence matters.”  The 2-page notification letter itself is unclassified, and a facsimile is included below.

Two American intelligence officials tell NBC News these are not the same two emails from Clinton’s server that have long been reported as containing information deemed Top Secret. …

An intelligence official familiar with the matter told NBC News that the special access program in question was so sensitive that McCullough and some of his aides had to receive clearance to be read in on it before viewing the sworn declaration about the Clinton emails.

Clinton’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clinton’s use of a private email server has been a constant source of controversy since the Benghazi hearings.  However, Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC tweeted that a “@SenFeinstein Clinton supporter says report on Clinton email is partisan says IG letter is not new emails were classified retroactively”.  Not new.  Time to move on.

Despite these dismissals as old news, the Daily Caller says that a University of New Hampshire poll shows Bernie Sanders leading Hillary by 27 points in the Granite State.  The Caller cited the email scandal as a factor.

Former Secretary of State Clinton’s email troubles seem to have hurt her perception among New Hampshire primary voters, with 55 percent saying she is “least honest.” Only 2 percent thought so of Sanders and 5 percent of Martin O’Malley.


Whose side is the IG on?

Whose side is the IG on?

The Daily Caller adds that most Democratic voters are  relatively disinterested in national security scandals.  Most still thought Hillary the best qualified to answer Three O’clock in the Morning calls.  The implication is that while the presence of secret material might prove an embarrassment it would not be fatal to Clinton’s cause.

The most important issue for Democrats remains “jobs/economy” as it has for the most of the race, this is has been the issue Sanders has been harping on and 57 percent think he is best equipped to handle the issue.

Foreign policy and national security are the second most important issue for Democrats and has remained so for majority of the race besides December, this is to Sanders’ benefit. Fifty-five percent believe Clinton is the best choice to handle the threat of ISIS.

If Hillary’s email troubles grow into a criminal investigation it may be impossible for the administration’s lawyers to firewall the scandal from other officials. President Obama himself corresponded with Secretary of State Clinton over the controversial server. In late 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported:

The White House has acknowledged that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton exchanged emails when the controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s use of a personal email server became public.

“The president, I think as many people expected, did, over the course of his first several years in office, trade emails with his secretary of state,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in March. But he also said the volume of emails between the two was “not large.”

But there are no plans to release those emails as part of the public disclosure of the 55,000 pages of email being made public by the State Department. Those releases — which began earlier this year and are scheduled to conclude in January — have been ordered by a judge in response to a lawsuit by a journalist from Vice News.

The president is on record as saying, “I don’t think it posed a national security problem,” on CBS’s 60 Minutes. “This is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.” The New York Times reported that the president’s remarks “rankle[d] some in the FBI”.

The FBI may be irritated but it is ultimately a part of the executive branch.  With Hillary running, in David Brock’s words,  “to cement this president’s legacy” it is hard to see how a criminal investigation would not similarly indict this same legacy. It is clearly in the president’s political interest to hope Clinton survives this latest blow-up.

Though many observers are hard-pressed to see how Clinton can escape the consequences of mishandling classified information, the World War 2 saga of Andrew J. May illustrates both the limits to what political protection can afford and what the justice system may accomplish against exalted figures. May’s carelessness with classified information sank US submarines.

Andrew Jackson May was a Kentucky attorney and influential New Deal-era politician, best known for his chairmanship of the House Military Affairs Committee during World War II …

U.S. submarines had been conducting a successful undersea war against Japanese shipping during World War II, frequently escaping Japanese anti-submarine depth charge attacks. However, the deficiencies of Japanese depth-charge tactics were revealed in a press conference held in June 1943 by Congressman May on his return from a war zone junket. …

At this press conference, May revealed the highly sensitive fact that American submarines had a high survival rate because Japanese depth charges were typically fused to explode at too shallow a depth. Various press associations sent this leaked news story over their wires and many newspapers (including one in Honolulu, Hawaii), published it …

Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, commander of the U.S. submarine fleet in the Pacific, later estimated that May’s security breach cost the United States Navy as many as ten submarines and 800 crewmen killed in action …

Following news reports of irregularities concerning his conduct in office, May was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1946 to the Eightieth Congress. The bribery scandal was intensified by testimony of excessive profit-taking in the Garsson munition business, and that the Garsson factory produced 4.2-inch mortar shells with defective fuzes, resulting in premature detonation and the deaths of 38 American soldiers. …

After less than two hours of deliberation, May was convicted by a federal jury on July 3, 1947, on charges of accepting bribes to use his position as Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee to secure munitions contracts during the Second World War. …

However, he continued to retain influence in Democratic party politics, and President Truman decided to grant May a full pardon in 1952. Unable to revive his political career, he returned home to practice law until his death.

May’s indiscretions would land most people in jail, but in a man so expansive they simply put a crimp in a very promising political career. He is remembered still. “The lodge at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, was named after May by Governor Bert T. Combs.”

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